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Kucherov plays setup-man, Bolts bump Islanders to even series

Wayne Masut | The Scrum Sports

After game one of the Stanley Cup Semifinals against the New York Islanders, the Tampa Bay Lightning had a bitter taste in their mouths. Jon Cooper, their coach, included. The Bolts were sloppy. Turnovers. Poor puck management. You name it. Not a full 60 minutes to boot. Not even close. Cooper was quoted venturing that the Isles players probably didn’t even need a shower. So, yeah. They hoped to bounce back in a major fashion Tuesday in game number two. 

The Bolts hoped to set the tone and draw an early penalty if possible. The Islanders are a stingy, responsible team. They don’t find themselves in the box too often, so the Lightning had to hustle. They needed to control what they could by playing their game and testing Semyon Varlamov. However, they got the power play. Gravy.

Gaining steam from the PP

The Bolts, while they didn’t score on the man-advantage, were buzzing on their early power play. The best chance off the cue of Nikita Kucherov side of the goal. He was robbed, but the man-power advantage generated five shots, and some quality looks.

Afterwards, Kucherov got back to work, finding Brayden Point on a nifty setup out front, and just like that it was 1-0 Tampa.

“Ref you suck” chorus in Amalie

In what was legitimately one of the worst calls in Tampa Bay Lightning, or maybe hockey history, Brayden Point was called for “goalie interference.” He was slammed into the Isles crease by a New York defender, and he got the only penalty. 23 seconds later it was in the back of the Lightning net.

Instantly, Amalie Arena voiced their displeasure. “Ref you suck!” filling the cool arena air. Legitimately speaking, a terrible call that cost the Bolts a goal nearly immediately.

It was 1-1 after 20 minutes.

Pally!

After that, the Lightning got a great look and fired an amazing rocket. A phenomenal pass to Kucherov from Victor Hedman, then to the back of the cage. 2-1 game.

Funnily enough, Tampa Bay had six guys on the ice for the goal. Not a banner night for the officials, but even-up in a way after that.

Islanders lose

That would do it for this one as Andrei Vasilevskiy played amazingly down the stretch, including a big stop from ‘The Big Cat.” Jan Rutta added insurance , with Hedman getting credit. 4-2 the final, and it’s all square heading to Long Island. Buckle up. We could be here a while…

Our three stars of the game

  1. Nikita Kucherov: Three assists and a great effort all around.
  2. Brayden Point: Phenomenal all game, including drawing the “penalty”
  3. Jan Rutta: First goal from a Bolt D-man this playoff.

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